I was listening to a webinar given by Dr. Joseph Coughlin of the MIT Age Lab and was fascinated by his premise that your life can be divided into four periods averaging approximately 8,000 days each. Birth to college graduation at age 22 is about 8,000 days. College graduation to midlife at about age 44 is another 8,000 days. Midlife to retirement at age 66 is 8,000 more days. And, add about another 8,000 days from your retirement party forward.
This webinar was about the reframing that is needed for the “retirement” category. People's life spans were much shorter when that word was developed. The life span now is around 85 years old. We have an average of 22 YEARS of ‘retirement.’
When I think of the word retirement, it brings up images of being put out to pasture… a declining sense of vitality. I know, I know – this is a grim picture but it has existed in my head nonetheless. I have endless examples where that simply is not true – Ironman athletes in their late 70s. John Glenn, astronaut going back up into space at 77. Cycling friends of mine who race past me that are in their late 70s and early 80s. With the help of modern medicine, hip and knee replacements, pacemakers and medication – more and more people are enjoying a vitality-filled life.
Dr. Coughlin was making the case that many people haven’t planned for their last 8000 days and that it should be a conversation that starts in the middle years, before retirement. Granted, many people are so swamped with work pressures, and family transitions – who has time to think of the future?
But it is worth the effort to give some time and thought to “What is my deepest desire” (Thank you Lucifer show). Our deepest desire can happen when we jump off the career treadmill. Or perhaps one’s deepest desire happened during their career and now it is time to explore other desires. When people don’t plan for retirement (beyond financial planning), boredom can creep in. What to do with all this free time?? In our previous 8000 day increments, there have been plans and structures to live our life but so many come into retirement with a blank slate and it brings up fear.
This is why I offer the Mental Fitness Boot Camp for anyone going through this transition. Fear breeds all the negatives – the “No I can’t because… No, it's too much… No, I don’t know anyone to do that with…” The list goes on and on. With mental fitness though, you build the capacity to lean into positive reactions rather than negative ones. In the boot camp, you build the neuropathways that lead you into curiosity, exploration, hope, and all sorts of more positive attitudes.
Start thinking about your retirement today. What do you desire? What do you think would stand in your way from making that plan? If you’ve got some naysayers in your head – I invite you to a free webinar ‘Chapter Two for You’ to learn more about the Positive Intelligence Mental Fitness Boot Camp and how it can make your retirement transition easier and more fun!